The Global Health Cluster (GHC) meeting, 10-11 June 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Global Health Cluster (GHC) meeting, hosted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), was held 10-11 June 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting brought together 70 participants and observers representing 20 out of 39 partner agencies in order to take stock of progress made and discuss the way forward for the Global Health Cluster in 2010-2011.
The GHC meeting followed a Health Cluster Coordinator Lessons learned workshop that was dedicated to collecting the lessons learned and recommendations from experienced health cluster coordinators in acute and protracted emergencies. These were from the cluster lead agency (WHO) as well as NGO partners. Seven HCCs participated in the GHC meeting to share their recommendations and to help guide the GHC in its strategic thinking.
The main objectives of the meeting were to:
- Assess progress and provide direction for the Global Health Cluster's Working Group and Policy and Strategy Team;
- Build common understanding of Global Cluster related issues and challenges;
- Take stock of recommendations from the field (including Haiti discussion, HCC Lessons Learned Workshop and Cluster Phase II evaluation).
The GHC meeting had a special focus on country level clusters, drawing from the experience of the response to the earthquake in Haiti, the outcomes of the Cluster Evaluation Phase II and the recommendations from the HCC Lessons Learned workshop. It is noteworthy that the outcomes from the three sessions echoed each other in calling for clearer linkages between the cluster and Humanitarian Coordinators; institutionalization of the cluster approach within Cluster Lead Agency and partners at global, regional and country level; support from global and regional level for the implementation of the cluster approach at country level; the availability of a surge team in large scale emergencies.
OCHA shared the way forward for support to the inter-cluster coordination at country level through inter-cluster diagnostic and support missions and encouraged the GHC to take an active part in these initiatives.
Participants were updated on the latest technical guidelines on Mental Health and Psycho-social Support (MHPSS) and Reproductive Health (RH). Both technical areas have recently produced and/or updated existing guidelines to be used by the health cluster in emergency situations.
The suggested areas of action and way forward for the GHC in 2010 -2011 included:
- Increase the institutionalization within WHO and partner organizations (UN / NGOs / donors) addressing roles and responsibilities of HCC versus WR.
- Predicable funding mechanisms need to be established.
- Define ways of working with national authorities during different phases of an emergency. Identify how to ensure standards with partners/ governments.
- Identify ways of work when national standards are not compatible with global standards.
- Ensure increased support from WHO/HQ and WHO/Regional Offices for the initial Flash/CAP development for sudden onset crises.
- Define methodology for engaging large number of partners: evaluate benefits of inclusions versus effectiveness; develop guidance on structure of cluster in major emergencies.
- Develop SOP on cluster management.
- Formalise deployment process of trained personnel.
- Identify how to influence a process when it is obviously on the wrong path.
- In acute emergencies - GHC to automatically send in a review / support mission within one month and ensure follow-up of recommendations.
- Develop SOP of the GHC for cluster assessment.
- Develop a framework for monitoring humanitarian health response.
Guidance/ technical support
- GHC to develop SOP for activation and accountability (including all stakeholders) to ensure that there is an HCC team established with enough support to adequately function within the scale of emergency response
- GHC to contribute with in-country technical support (assessments, strategic planning)
Further research / evidence gathering
- Document what worked and what challenges were identified.
- Increase monitoring, especially of impact of training - information is key.
- Develop a framework of coordination and technical standards for initial phases of research and rescue, mass casualty management and field hospitals.
- GHC Mission to Haiti to review implementation of the Flash Appeal and Health Cluster work.
Recommendations of the HCC Workshop
- GHC four Co-chairs to develop a matrix and assign responsible entities and timelines for action and report.
Next Steps: The co-chairs of the GHC Working Group and the Policy and Strategy Team will review the workplan in the light of the recommendations from the HCC Lessons Learned Workshop and the suggested areas of action raised by the plenary. The workplan will be shared by all cluster members and will be finalised by end of July.